Bringing Torah to Tasmania

Earlier this month, Yisrael Meir Lau, the former chief rabbi of Israel, paid a visit to Tasmania, which—given its location off the southeastern coast of Australia—rarely gets to host prominent rabbis. Nomi Kaltmann provides some background:

Tasmania has . . . always had a Jewish population in its capital city of Hobart, which was set up in 1804 as a penal colony for exiled British convicts. Eight Jews were tallied among the original 270 convicts who settled there. The state is also home to Australia’s two oldest continuously operating synagogues: Hobart Hebrew Congregation, built in 1845, and the Launceston Synagogue, built one year later.

The history of Jews in Tasmania is long and checkered. In the 1940s, before the state of Israel was established, an explorer looking for a potential Jewish homeland scouted out the island’s coast but died on his mission. Over time, the number of Jewish people living in Tasmania has also ebbed and flowed; increases in immigration occurred during World War II, as European Jews fled Nazism, and in the 1980s, as a wave of Jews emigrated from South Africa.

Today, Tasmania’s Jewish community is once again growing. The 2021 Australian census showing a growth of almost 50 percent, from 248 people in 2016 to 376 in 2021. No one has studied the reasons behind the increase, but housing in Tasmania is significantly cheaper than in major cities, such as Melbourne and Sydney. Tasmania is also known across Australia as a retiree hotspot, especially for those fond of a quiet life and hiking.

Read more at JTA

More about: Australia, Israeli Chief Rabbinate, Yisrael Meir Lau

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security